The strongest cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in more than two decades began making landfall early Wednesday and will cause extensive large scale damage in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Fueled by unusually warm waters off the eastern coast of India, Cyclone Amphan (pronounced “UM-PHUN”) made landfall approximately 150 miles west of Kolkata but with a span roughly equivalent to the distance from New York City to Denver, it is hitting much of densely populated eastern India and Bangladesh. At least 14 people have already died from the cyclone, according to the Washington Post.
Just before it made landfall the storm had sustained winds of 100 mph, equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane with heavy rain. Because Amphan was much stronger (equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane) before it approached land, its storm surge could reach up to 17 feet, according to CNN. More than 2.6 million have already fled to shelters but evacuation during a pandemic brings additional dangers. In an effort to minimize close contact as much as possible, authorities are using multi-story buildings as shelters during the cyclone. Coronavirus cases have spiked in the region in recent days as migrants returned home from other parts of the country.
The trail of devastating of #CycloneAmphan in Kolkata. Trees toppled and fell on electricity transformers causing a scary situation. Power outages have been reported from many parts of the city pic.twitter.com/3uQ22A8Ssd
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 20, 2020